We are losing the heart and soul of our tradition, of the American spirit, and of our democracy. An attitude of narrow self-interest, hard-hearted practicality, and short-term vision is wreaking havoc across our land. It shows little concern for people’s actual well-being, it diminishes imagination and thoughtfulness, and it brands a passion for truth and knowledge as irrelevant.
While too many of us were living in denial and buying the illusion that things were getting better, they were actually getting worse for too many people and were, in fact, getting much worse for all of us, more than we realized. Our denial equals indifference, and our failure to face reality is casting a dark shadow over our national power structure and our lifestyles. Indifference blurs the lines between good and evil. Indifference makes it easier to look away from victims, our neighbors, and reduces them to abstractions, statistics, and political groups.
This is the story of three generations of my family’s relationship to our healthcare system. These are stories of suffering, struggle, and grief. They molded the lives of my family members. But I’m not telling them as tales of woe. I’m telling them to show the human side, my experience, my family’s experience of the financial costs of healthcare, and the cross these costs crucify us on. And for the first time I’m going to let my inner deplorables—my shadow side, long repressed—speak on the page.
There are some things we need to wake up to and learn from this shipwreck of our ability to be civil to each other. The first thing we need to learn is that living in a world full of turmoil — poverty, crime, violence, or more commonly, anxiety, tension, frustration, serious illness, and clashing parents and battling kids — teaches our biology early on that we are in a scary world. We learn we can’t feel safe or trust people to be good.
We who have been living in the more affluent bubble the last few decades seem caught in a double bind. On the one hand, we want to be compassionate, or at least seem that way. On the other hand, we are afraid of and want to defend ourselves against the people, the culture, and the communities caught in the clutches of drastic economic hardships. We fear them as if we are being threatened by foreigners. We fear their crudeness, their potential violence, their anger, their drug use, their failure to know and respect our rules; most of all, far too many of us fear how much it might really cost to give them a helping hand. Well, all I can say is that, if we have learned anything at all from our history at home and abroad since World War II, it should be that whenever we allow ourselves to be driven down the path of fear, we are on a direct road to disaster. This is a time for us to help each other without fear and to invest in our country with creativity to rebuild the structure of our democracy, beginning with its human infrastructure.
Dear Reader, The following is a continuation of my blog series based on my book The Midnight Hour: A Jungian Perspective on America’s Pivotal Moment. If you are just now picking up on the series, you might start with the …
The shock of the election and the traumatic stress-inducing political chaos that has followed it has left me aware that a much larger portion of my fellow citizens than I knew are strangers to me. Thinking about this realization and the darkness around this election brought to mind a frightening story I read in my childhood.
It took me a few decades to learn that life is a flow of creation, destruction, and re-creation. When we are in the destruction phase, we often feel stuck, life seems chaotic, out of control, threatening and even despairing. In reality we are being faced with a turning point. We are being challenged to choose between regressing and re-creating. It took me a bit longer to learn that happiness, joy, and fulfillment are not goals to be achieved. They are the result of being fully engaged in the blood, sweat, tears, fears, love, and laughter of real life. True peace of mind comes from having the will and courage to confront the darkness and uncertainties we are facing and heal the splits within our unconscious shadows, both personal and cultural—the things we have closed our eyes and ears to.